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2005 Ford Focus Test Drive Review

Picture of 2005 Ford Focus

The Ford Focus stands out among compact cars, with a sporty chassis and updated styling.

6.3 /10
Overall Score

For the better part of the 1990s, Ford participated in the compact car market, but that was the best you could say about it. The Ford Escort represented modest motoring that put thrift above all else. Some years and trims offered a bit of styling flair, but by-and-large, the Escort was nothing to write home about.

Then, for the 2000 model year, Ford upped its game, with an all-new compact offering that it called the Focus. This small car, available as a sedan, a 3-door hatchback, wagon, and later a five-door hatchback, put Ford back on the map in the compact car segment. For 2005, the Focus receives several updates, including new styling, updated trim selection, and a new performance edition, called the ST.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

The 2005 Focus gains a more pronounced and squared-off grille, as well as new front and rear bumper designs. The taillights still have angular corners, but the border with the trunk is far more upright than the previous design. In all, these subtle tweaks contribute to a more mature overall design.

One of the most notable changes will not be apparent until one enters the 2005 Focus. The previously quirky dash design has been replaced with a far more conventional setup. While it may not be as eye-catching as the older setup, this new cabin look is likely to age better and contributes to that design sophistication.

Body styles are denoted by the ZX lettering scheme, with ZX4 as the sedan, ZX3 as the hatchback, ZX5 as the four-door hatchback, and ZXW as the wagon. Trims for the 2005 Focus are S, SE, and SES. Standard features on the 2005 Focus include manually adjustable front seats, a split-fold rear bench seat, heated side mirrors, and a four-speaker stereo with AM/FM/CD player.

The SE trim adds air conditioning, one-touch power windows, power-adjustable side mirrors, and remote keyless power locks. The range-topping SES adds cruise control, leather upholstery, steering wheel audio controls, fog lights, and premium alloy wheels. The ST trim features unique 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and unique interior upholstery with sporty contrast stitching.

Performance

6/ 10

The base engine in the 2005 Ford Focus is a 2.0-liter inline-4, making 136 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. It routes power to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.

For 2005, the ZX4 ST replaced the Focus SVT. This performance version of the sedan was outfitted with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, putting out 151 horsepower and 154 pound-feet of torque. This engine can only be found with the 5-speed manual transmission, sending power to the front wheels.

The ST features some additional performance upgrades, such as enhanced suspension components, four-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch alloy wheels, and a sport-tuned exhaust.

Some models come with the optional detuned 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, making 130 horsepower. This engine qualifies as a Partial Zero Emissions vehicle.

Form and Function

7/ 10

The Focus comes in hatchback, sedan, and wagon body styles, and depending on your needs, one will be more ideal than the others. The sedan has 14.8 cubic feet of cargo space, while the ZX3 hatchback provides a bit more space, at 18 cubic feet. If you are looking for the most usable cargo space, check out the ZX5 wagon. With the rear seats folded, it boasts a commendable 35.6 cubic feet of cargo space.

It should also be noted that the only trim with a tilt-telescoping steering wheel is the range-topping SES. This is something to consider for very tall or very short drivers.

Tech Level

4/ 10

The Focus comes standard with an AM/FM stereo with four speakers and a CD player. For 2005, the actual stereo head unit has been updated and improved for the more modern cabin.

This is a solid setup but if you want improved sound quality, check out the optional Sony stereo. More than just a brand name on the speaker, this system is a “Sound Design by Sony” approach and even includes an 8-inch subwoofer.

Safety

6/ 10

Standard safety features front disc and rear drum brakes, airbags, and a theft-deterrent engine immobilizer. The SE adds rear door child safety locks, while the range-topping SES adds fog lights, which will improve visibility in inclement driving.

As part of the redesigns, the front and rear bumpers are slightly thicker, which should help with low-speed impacts, putting less “bend” in “fender bender.”

Cost-Effectiveness

8/ 10

The most economical setup from a fuel-consumption standpoint is the base 2.0-liter engine with the 5-speed manual. It returns 22 mpg city, 32 highway, 26 combined. Opting for the 4-speed automatic drops that to 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. The Focus ST, with its 2.3-liter engine and 5-speed manual, returns 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, 23 combined.

The Focus has finally given Ford a serious competitor against the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. While the Focus may undercut those two on price, the tradeoff is so-so fit-and-finish on the part of the Ford. But the handsome styling, choice of body styles, and available performance model all make the Focus an attractive choice among compact cars.

Updated

From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.

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